When I lived in Florida, I fished a few times per week for hours at a time. I loved it. Best hobby ever. I’ve lived in Thailand for almost twenty years and I haven’t been fishing at all. Why? It just seems pointless.
I could be wrong, but that’s what this article is about. I want to do a little research into fishing in Thailand and see if there might be hope for anglers wondering the same thing as me.
Does Good Fishing Exist in Thailand?
I’ve seen plenty of Thais standing with their poles in their hands (no pun intended) and waiting for a bite. I’ve seen this along canals, streams, ‘rivers’ like the Krabi ‘river’ which isn’t a river at all, it’s an inlet. I’ve seen this along the beach.
Just yesterday I saw three guys wade-fishing off a beach in Tub Kaak, Krabi. I can’t recall ever seeing Thais standing in the water to fish, so I got a brief bit of hope that shore-fishing might be worthwhile.
Shore Fishing in Thailand
In Florida and Hawaii, I fished from the shore often. Here’s an entire website dedicated to Florida fishing (Salty101) that I’ve been adding to recently. I just have that insatiable urge to go fishing again lately now that my interest in Thailand snakes is fading.
I’m not sure why my interest in snakes is fading, I think I’ve just overdone it. Too much of a good thing.
I have sat and watched people fishing from the shore around Thailand’s coasts for hours over the years. I’ve seen nobody catch anything bigger than about 30 cm. Oh wait, there have been some catfish catches I witnessed.
I don’t like catfish, I don’t care how big they are. I get no thrill at all out of catching catfish, so I don’t pay attention to them.
Thais catch snakehead fish, catfish, and I think Tilapia in the small water holes in the northeast area of Thailand called Isaan. The water levels dip down due to evaporation and guys climb into the mud and flop around with the fish, trying to throw them up on the bank to eat later.
The amount and variety of pesticides that must have accumulated in that water in the middle of agricultural land must be staggering. I have never eaten one of those fish, and I strongly discourage the wife from them. She still eats them at times.
The fish that I’ve seen caught along the ocean and rivers are what I’d consider baitfish, and also just too small for consumption. Still, Thais appear to keep anything they catch.
I saw on Facebook a guy boasting about fishing trips he was doing from Ao Nang Beach. He showed photos with 30 or so small fish, including very small groupers.
Is there no limit on the length of fish you can catch in Thailand?
No limit? Or, no enforcement of those limits? Either way, there appears to be absolutely no qualms among fisherman – they’ll catch and eat or sell anything they possibly can.
Hence the reason the fishing from shore sucks in this country. Let’s not even get into gill nets laid across vast areas of grassy breeding grounds. Nobody seems to care, and there is absolutely nothing in shore worth throwing a line out at.
Thailand’s shores have been fished out for decades and it isn’t returning anytime soon, even with regulations. Who is going to enforce them? I’ve been out on the water many times over the years here in Krabi.
I have NEVER seen any Marine patrol harassing the fishing boats, cast netters, seine netters, or anyone in the water catching marine species of any kind.
Welcome to Thailand, where wildlife is not protected in any way. It’s a free-for-all. Always has been. Probably always will. Who is going to care about it?
Krabi Stocked Saltwater Fishing Lakes
One form of saltwater fishing that does exist in the country are these man-made stalked lakes of massive fish from all over the world.
You can pay a couple thousand Thai baht per day and sit on the short of these lakes, throwing bait in on a line and catching fish after fish.
Why? Because they probably don’t get enough to eat and they’ll eat anything that hits the water. Who can afford paying for food for these goliath fish that eat as much as humans do (or more) daily?
I just don’t “get” stocked lake fishing. I don’t enjoy it at all. I wouldn’t participate in it at all because it just seems so fake. It’s like walking through one of the snake shows and trying to grab snakes and calling that herping. WTF is that?
Anyway, so, stocked lake fishing is out for me.
Krabi In-shore Fishing from a Kayak?
I have seen a local guy with a kayak with fishing poles pictured on our local Krabi Facebook group from time to time. I’ll write him today and update this article if he tells me he has found a place to catch decent fish just off the beach. I’m sure he’s not going too far out.
In Florida I tossed my kayak off the dock behind my apartment and fished all day on Saturday and Sunday. The saltwater canal led to Tampa Bay and a lot of different areas to fish. It was great fun.
I’d love to go fishing off a kayak here in Krabi and catch Mahi, Tuna, Kingfish?, snapper, grouper, and even Jack Crevalle.
I don’t know if I’d eat anything found off the beach here in Krabi. I haven’t seen anything suggesting that there were any fish to eat, much less any study done on the mercury and pesticide content of fish caught close to the shore.
Again, nobody cares to do any study. Or, there just aren’t any fish in-shore to be testing. Not sure which!
Off-Shore Fishing from a Boat
As I said, I saw a guy offering something like deep-sea fishing on the FB group local to us here. He has a very small boat, so I think he isn’t going out far at all – maybe a few miles tops. People on one of his tours were holding up what appeared to be 13″ Mahi-Mahi (Dorado) and 10″ groupers.
Is that something to get excited about? That, and they had about 30 small crevalle jack that they may have netted. I don’t know. That’s not fishing to me. That’s certainly not what I’d pay for.
Longing for Florida
I’ve been thinking for a while now about getting back to Florida to fish. To live maybe. Thailand has its good points. It has its bad points. Just like everywhere. The USA certainly has more bad points now than it did when I left! Is it worth considering returning to?
Is there a place in Asia where I can raise my daughters in good schools and with good everything, AND that has great fishing? I don’t know. Australia seems nice, but they have some hoops to jump through for Americans wanting to live and work there.
I think I’m already past the age of desirability for that country as well (54).
So I write a lot about fishing in Florida. Fishing from shore you can catch big trout, sheepshead, snook, redfish, black drum, jacks, snapper, grouper, amberjack, cobia… so much variety and size to the fish there.
I was never bored. I ate a lot of fish while there too. I didn’t even mention one of my favorite freshwater fish species – the largemouth bass!
There are something like 10,000 lakes in Florida. I did my best to get to all of them. Bass fishing was really fun for a while, especially because I didn’t understand how similar saltwater fishing was, so I put it off for a while.
I can’t emphasize too much how important it is for kids to experience fishing. Maybe not hunting, but at least fishing. Snorkeling. Bodyboarding. Spearfishing? Anything in the water. The ocean. The freshwater lakes near your home. Trout streams. Salmon streams and lakes.